Cats tend to be solitary creatures. That doesn't mean that two cats can't share the same home; cats can form close bonds with other feline housemates, especially if they've lived together their whole lives. What it does mean is that two cats sharing one home may be more prone to fighting. Owners can easily become tired of separating their angry cats or confused when cats who typically get along well are suddenly at each other's throats. Some fights are inevitable, but by understanding the reasons for kitty combat, owners can better respond to conflict and possibly prevent it before it begins.
Cats may become protective of specific rooms, items, or even people. One way to reduce territorial aggression in cats is to have them spayed or neutered, especially for males. Owners can help their cats feel secure by giving them equal attention and ensuring they have their own spaces to sleep, eat, relax, and use the litter box.
Scarcity can make cats competitive, even if it's only in their mind. Try to make sure there are plenty of toys, food, and attention to go around. Ideally, each cat should have their own bed, scratching post, and litter box. Separate their food and water dishes, so the cats don't feel that they need to compete during mealtimes.
Cats are creatures of habit. Even a small change like redecorating a room or trying out a new cat food can stress them out, and cats may take that stress out on each other. Expect more fights during major transition periods like moving or a new baby. Owners can also help soothe their cats and reduce their anxious energy by playing with them and giving them extra affection during times of change.
Playfighting is an important part of cat socialization, especially among kittens. If the cats take turns to pounce and defend, their bodies are relaxed, and their ears point forward, they're likely not in actual distress. A playfight can turn serious, so keep an eye on the cats and separate them if it becomes too heated.
It may take time to introduce cats to one another. Keep them in different rooms and start with brief, calm meetings in neutral spaces, so both cats have time to adjust to one another. Separate them if they begin to fight. Sometimes it helps to feed the cats on either side of a closed door, so they associate each other's scent with positive experiences.
When cats are in conflict, their first instinct is usually to avoid one another. When they're forced into proximity and don't have a place to retreat, the claws tend to come out. Try to provide multiple hiding places like cat shelves, perches, and cat sizes boxes in quiet corners. The amount and type of space each cat needs may depend on their breed, history, and temperament.
Redirected aggression is a common behavior among cats. They're upset by a noise or the scent of a person or animal outside. The cat can't do anything about the source of their discomfort, so they take it out on the other cat in the home. Humans can't always sense whatever's setting their cats off, but if both cats seem on edge, it may be best to keep them separated until they calm down.
Cats change as they grow, just like people do. As kittens grow into maturity between 2 and 5 years old, they take more control over their activities. This can cause conflict between a mature cat and kitten or between two kittens who are growing up into adult cats with different preferences. Sometimes this is temporary. In other cases, owners may need to consult a behavioral specialist or rearrange the home to meet both cats' needs.
Cats are highly energetic, intelligent creatures who need plenty of playtime. An under-stimulated cat might start chasing or biting their housemate in good fun, but it can quickly turn into a fight. Owners can reduce this conflict by playing with their cats. Daily play helps cats feel secure and happy and works off their extra energy so they don't turn it on one another.
Sometimes cats just don't like one another. Sometimes personalities clash, or you've got a particularly solitary cat, or there may be a long-standing grudge between your kitties. Cat behavioral experts might be able to train the cats to get along more peacefully, but no one can force cats to like each other when they just don't. In extreme cases, one cat may need to be re-homed in order for both of them to live peacefully.
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